I am a BBC Radio 4 listener. I listen most every day, most all the day.
It did this by having a double length show (30 minutes, instead of the usual 15) in which, to cut a long story short, someone fell off a roof.
I was anticipating the story-lines over the coming months (years, if I’m honest) where Nigel (that fell off the roof) is disabled by spinal injury and/or irreparably broken and unusable legs.
The roof he fell from is from the village of Ambridge’s stately (and, indeed, Nigel’s) home, Lower Loxley. Surely there would be some disabled access issues arising from Nigel’s return home?
Not to mention the everyday problems that one encounters, being a wheelchair user, in a small rural community.
We are all (I hope) familiar with the rules and regulations that employers and businesses have to comply with, to ensure that their premises are accessible to disabled people. Basically, the premises concerned must take reasonable steps to ensure they comply. (Here’s the UK Government page on “Access To Everyday Services” if you’re not up to speed).
In Ambridge, as in many old villages, there would be some problems. The village shop has recently become a “community shop”, whereby the locals have rallied round and are running it, to save from losing it, when it was recently threatened with closure. There is little or no chance that the locals could afford to furnish the shop with a wheelchair ramp.
Although this sounds quite simple, there are, of course, many rules and regulations to providing a wheelchair ramp to a publicly accessed building. The ramp must not be too steep, so it often has to be quite long, to avoid this. But then, it must not cause an obstruction so, quite often, will have to be made with at least one turn in it, so it ends up wrapping around the front of the building. Surveyors and even architects might have to get involved.
All well and good… if you’re the Lord Of The Manor and have funds freely available to do this, but most of us with restricted mobility have restricted incomes, as well.
And that’s just the shop. Suppose you want to go to your local pub? (My main fear, for when I become more dependant on my wheelchair, is how difficult it is to get into my pub, in a wheelchair) Or visit your child’s classroom, in the village school or playgroup? Or attend a meeting in the village hall? Or even visit a neighbour along the road?
Of course, all these things could be just fine, in Ambridge. They could have, somehow, already got drop kerbs on all the pavements and accessible doors to all the public buildings and extra wide doors inside Nigel’s abode.
But, as I cannot recall a wheelchair user, in recent years, as a character in The Archers, we’ll never know… Nigel did not end up disabled, but he conveniently died, instead. Bummer.
I’m sure I am not the only person of restricted mobility to be at home, all day every day, listening to Radio 4 and following the Archers.
We do, of course, have the splendidly irreverent “Ouch!” podcast, from the BBC, which, I guess, might not be for every (broken) body, but I do enjoy it (and was even on it, a few years ago, taking part in the game “Vegetable, Vegetable or Vegetable” – their take on the old game “Animal, Vegetable or Mineral” Click Here to hear me).
Disabled presenters, and actors are wonderfully part of the BBC, but characters? Not so many.
It would be nice to see or hear some of the every day issues, that disabled people deal with, be voiced every now and then. A person maybe having an accident and maybe, say, falling from his roof, resulting in a disabling injury, perhaps? I think there are many people that would be interested in such a storyline.
But I guess our opinion is, like us, invalid.
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